– or –
Create a Last Will and Testament; establish eligibility for Medicaid to help cover the costs of nursing home care; develop an incapacity plan for yourself; provide for your disabled child upon your passing; appeal a Social Security determination of non-disability: Terner Elder Law, P.L, can help you with all of this, and more. Learn more about the services the firm provides by making a selection, below.
Terner Elder Law, P.L., is tucked away on the southern shore of Lake Wellington, just off of Forest Hill Boulevard. The firm’s office in the Lake Wellington Professional Centre is across the street from the Wellington Village Hall, municipal complex, and public ampitheatre. The firm assists clients throughout Palm Beach County and beyond.
(select any answer to read more)
You may tell me, “my goal is to make sure that my children have the power to act for me when I can no longer help myself,” in which case we may develop an incapacity plan together that involves the use of documents like Durable Powers of Attorney or Health Care Advance Directives. You may tell me, “my goal is to find a way to pay for my wife’s nursing home care,” in which case we may embark together on a process of long term care planning and, as a part of that process, execute the documents appropriate to that planning. You may tell me, “my goal is to never need a nursing home,” and so we may look to different techniques and documents designed to marshal your resources in such a way as to help you stay at home, safely. You may tell me, “I want to make sure my children are provided for, after I am gone,” and so we may develop a plan together to insure that that happens. Every person is unique. Every plan is therefore unique, too. The documents are the tools to assist with the implementation of the plan.
The documents I prepare reflect my 18+ years of experience as an elder law attorney and are not the “off-the-rack” fill-in-the-blank forms of the type you would get from Office Max, or LegalZoom, or an attorney running a document mill; there are plenty of those to be found, and you generally get what you pay for. If you just want a document drawn up a la carte, I can do that for you. But you should want so much more.
I visit with clients throughout Palm Beach County and Broward. Sometimes even beyond.
Consistent individual attention is a luxury that some large firms unfortunately cannot afford.
LegalZoom’s “Peace of Mind Review Service” boils down to making sure that the pages of your document are numbered, that names are spelled correctly, and that dates and the other data you supply are consistent. Because it is a non-lawyer organization, it has no need to conform to bar ethics rules, it is neither licensed nor regulated by a state bar, it is not required to check for conflicts of interest, it is not required to adhere to state bar confidentiality requirements, and it does not draft documents custom to your circumstances.
Of all the documents you will sign in your lifetime, perhaps none are are important as the planning documents prepared in the course of an elder law representation. During planning, you may decide how to divide up your estate. You may direct how your children should be cared for after your passing. You may instruct your doctors how to treat you should you be terminally ill. These are not the types of instructions that should be reduced to checkboxes on a boilerplate form purchased off the shelf at Office Max. You should not reduce your end-of-life decision-making to the options provided within a pull-down menu at a virtual on-line law firm staffed by faceless attorneys you never meet. Telling your life story is important. Sitting down, face-to-face, with an attorney, is important. Sharing your experiences and feelings about how you have seen other family members and friends treated at end-of-life, and whether things went as intended for them or whether you would want something different for yourself, is important. These are not the decisions to zoom through.
ICP (nursing home) Medicaid benefits are retroactive back to the first day of the month of application. Home and Community-Based Long Term Care Medicaid Waiver benefits (which help defray the cost of assisted living or care at home) are not. At present, there is a governmental waiting list for Medicaid Waiver benefits, but there is no similar waiting list for nursing home benefits.
On average, it takes anywhere from several weeks to several months to bring a client to the point of application readiness. The fastest I have ever been able to bring a client to the point of application was 48 hours, but this was atypical and involved a LOT of work for us both. The client was highly motivated, however – he came to me at the end of the month, facing a looming nursing home bill of $11,000. By moving quickly, I was able to bring about eligibility before the end of the month. As a result, instead of paying the facility $11,000, he only had to pay approximately $800.
The Florida Department of Children and Families (the agency that administers the Medicaid program) looks back at the five year period preceding application. With certain limited exceptions, they penalize any uncompensated transfers (gifts) made during that period, taking away one month of eligibility for every $8,662 gifted. But that’s exactly where long term care planning comes into play. The strategies employed by Terner Elder Law, P.L., are not viewed as gifts by Medicaid; the government sees them, but it does not penalize them. Assets can be sheltered on Day One, and application made on Day Two.
When I quote a fee for Long Term Care Planning, I take many factors into account:
Those factors, and more, help guide the fee determination process. By the conclusion of the consultation, after we have had the chance to talk and to learn about each other, we will both be in a better position to understand what the work is, and what a fair price for the work would be.
Sometimes, I get asked “Well, can you at least give me a ballpark? What if I pay for the consultation only to learn that there’s no way I can afford to do the planning? I will have wasted money on the consultation!” That’s a fair point. My response is this:
The consultation is not a sales pitch. Even if you decide not to go forward, I am confident that you will feel that the information and education I provide in the time we speak is well worth the fee paid. If you feel otherwise, tell me. I don’t want anyone to walk away from an initial consultation feeling like they did not get their money’s worth. If you do decide to retain me for work following the initial consultation, the fee for the initial consultation is applied in full toward that work.
As far as a ballpark? Properly done long term care planning is comprehensive, and therefore it is not inexpensive. However, given the astronomical costs associated with privately paying for long term care here in South Florida (where the average area nursing home charges around $225 per day for a semi-private room, and the average nursing home resident needs that room for more than two years), compared to the cost of care for Medicaid recipients, the vast majority of clients will find that they recoup the planning fee and that they begin experiencing a net savings very quickly indeed.
As Judge Learned Hand opined in Helvering v. Gregory, 69 F.2d 809, 810 (2d Cir 1934), affirmed, 293 U.S. 465 (1935).
Anyone may so arrange his affairs that his taxes shall be as low as possible; he is not bound to choose that pattern which will best pay the Treasury; there is not even a patriotic duty to increase one’s taxes.
The same argument can and should be made with regard to Medicaid planning. Medicaid planning is about understanding the government’s rules and using them to your best advantage. All of the Medicaid planning techniques I use are legal, and all of the planning done is disclosed to the government as a part of the application process. You never need to worry about what you can and cannot say to the caseworker. No offshore accounts, no cloak-and-dagger here.
Just because it’s legal doesn’t necessarily make it moral, of course. Occasionally courts are asked to rule on the morality of Medicaid planning. Here’s what one court had to say about it:
No agency of the government has any right to complain about the fact that middle-class people confronted with desperate circumstances choose voluntarily to inflict poverty upon themselves when it is the government itself which has established the rule that poverty is a prerequisite to the receipt of government assistance in defraying the costs of ruinously expensive, but absolutely essential medical treatment.
Matter of Bipin Shah v. Debuono, 694 N.Y.S. 2d 88, 257 A.D.2d 256 (N.Y. App.Div.2nd Dep’t, July 6, 1999).